1859 Balloon Voyage embarks on its 20,000th flight

The 1859 Balloon Voyage took it’s 20,000th flight on Sept. 27, 2017. 

By Ephraim Rudolph
Conner Prairie’s iconic 1859 Balloon Voyage celebrated its 20,000th flight today. Along for the special ride were guests Ashley, Kimberly, Zoe, and Todd. They join the ranks of thousands of Conner Prairie guests who have enjoyed the experience since its first balloon launch in 2009.

Taking pride in the moment was Conner Prairie staff member Chris Greiling, who has served as chief and manager of the exhibit since 2012.

“It’s a milestone, a nice big milestone,” hesaid. “We’ve been very successful with it for the last eight years.”

The 1859 Balloon Voyage at Conner Prairie is one of only three balloons of its kind in the U.S. 

The main feature of the 1859 Balloon Voyage is its 105-foot tall, tethered helium balloon envelope manufactured by Aerophile, a French company. Only three other balloons of this type are operational in the U.S., at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif.; the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in San Diego, Calif.; and Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla.

Conner Prairie’s balloon, made possible by a Reynolds Farm Equipment corporate sponsorship, rises 370 feet into the sky about 20 times a day, allowing on average 20 visitors at a time to experience beautiful views of the central Indiana skyline from its netted aluminum gondola.

The queue for the balloon launch at the 1859 Balloon Voyage is outfitted as a museum tribute to the history of balloon flight in the U.S., dating back to pioneering balloonist John Wise’s 1859 airmail delivery in Lafayette, Ind. Visitors waiting to board the balloon can step back in time to 1859 Lafayette and explore the science and history of balloon flight technology at interactive kiosks showcasing the ways different gases lift weights.

The 1859 Balloon Voyage had its 10,000th balloon launch in 2013. With this 20,000th launch arriving four years later, Greiling estimates that the 30,000th launch is likely to occur in 2021.